State police ordered to undergo training on public records

State police ordered to undergo training on public records

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut State Police improperly withheld video of a high-speed car chase requested by a newspaper and must undergo training on releasing public records promptly, the state Freedom of Information Commission has ruled.

A hearing officer for the commission found that state police not only broke state law by failing to produce the video under a request by the Republican-American, but also denied that it existed.

The Waterbury newspaper reported that the commission issued its ruling Thursday in an attempt to resolve what it called a “systemic” problem in the department.

In June 2019, a reporter for the newspaper requested dashboard camera and body camera footage of a high-speed chase on Dec. 4, 2018. State police responded the next month that all that was publicly disclosable was a news release.

“They sent out communications that appear to be crafted to deliberately mislead the public,” said Thomas Parisot, an attorney for the newspaper.

The Republican-American filed a complaint seeking $1,000 in fines and mandatory training on public records for state police legal staff. State police eventually released the video.

State police spokesman Brian Foley said Commissioner James Rovella has made transparency a “cornerstone of his leadership.”

State police have 30 days to comply with the commissioner’s order after receiving final notice of the panel’s decision.